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Western Electric Company, Inc.Finding His Voice (1929)

something has gone horribly wrong 8-p
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Cartoon showing how sound motion pictures work, produced by a company that was an innovator in the field. Story by W.E. Erpi (pseudonym for Western Electric, Electrical Research Products Inc.). Directors: F. Lyle Goldman and Max Fleischer.


This movie is part of the collection: Prelinger Archives

Producer: Western Electric Company, Inc.
Sponsor: Western Electric Company, Inc.
Audio/Visual: Sd, B&W
Keywords: Perception: Sound; Motion pictures: Sound; Animation

Creative Commons license: Public Domain


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Reviews
Average Rating: 4.56 out of 5 stars4.56 out of 5 stars4.56 out of 5 stars4.56 out of 5 stars4.56 out of 5 stars

Reviewer: turbovoncrim - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - October 11, 2013
Subject: great
loved the technical review of how talking pictures work.

Reviewer: Earle Bruce - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - March 24, 2011
Subject: great fun
interesting movie

Reviewer: Meatpies - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - May 20, 2010
Subject: This is a keeper!
There is something very special about the origin of film, whether it was the origin of the silent film, or the move to talkies.

In a day of special effects and CGI, it's so wonderfully refreshing to see how all that got it's start.

Reviewer: musicom - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - September 21, 2008
Subject: The Death of Talkie and Mutie
The last two seconds are the best, when our filmclip friends meet THEIR FATE - - DEATH - - when eaten and gulped down by a small whale while rowing in the sea. THE END. BTW, I thought whales only eat plankton?

Reviewer: jazzitall - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - April 27, 2007
Subject: Analog CD
I like this film, enjoyed much with the technical explanations - optically recorded and played sound in '20! Maybe analog but still very impressing!:)

Reviewer: Christine Hennig - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - June 30, 2006
Subject: Everything I Know I Learned from Anthropomorphic Inanimate Objects
OK, folks, I knew this would be a favorite the moment it started. It features not one, but two incredibly cute Mr. Product characters: Talkie, a cheery piece of sound film; and Mutie, a cranky piece of silent film. Mutie rudely breaks up Talkieâs act (a cute rendition of the âAnvil Chorusâ on a xylophone) and demands to know where Talkie got his voice. So Talkie takes him to Dr. Western, who explains the sound-on-film process to him, and to us, in detail. This delightful animated film was made in the early days of sound, to explain the process to theater owners, which gives it lots of historical value. But historical value is not what appeals to me hereââitâs the delightful characters of Talkie and Mutie, as well as Dr. Western, who veers dangerously close to being a mad scientist. The ending is a real hoot, but I wonât give it away. Suffice to say that I enjoyed this film from beginning to end. You canât go wrong with Mr. Product characters as far as Iâm concerned.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.

Reviewer: ERD - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - January 25, 2006
Subject: Historically interesting
A vintage treasure. Very enjoyable.

Reviewer: JuanSchwarz - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - January 25, 2006
Subject: great
Wow, a really funny cartoon, what an interesting way to introduce sound films...
I think the funniest thing is, that this film talks about optical soundtracks, while according to IMDB it originally had a vitaphone soundtrack :D
Great anyway

Reviewer: left wing films - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - December 4, 2005
Subject: its educational!!!
great educational funny cartoon
totally worth watching

Reviewer: Ja30fitz - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - July 24, 2005
Subject: "Why, have you heard about what Mr. Western has done for MEEE?"
This film is steeped in historical value, but it is still very enjoyable. The two main characters are rather uncreatively named "Talkie" and "Mutie", but that doesn't deter from the quality of this film. It is funny and very enjoyable. It's also fascinating to hear about all the stuff that had to be done in order for a film to have sound! We certainly have it much easier now! The ending is one that cannot be missed!

Reviewer: Otto Snel - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - July 24, 2005
Subject: Westrex variable area/density.
Excellent demo. I'd just like to mention that Westrex also produced a variable area optical recorder. I think it was in the 1940s, prior to that RCA ruled the area domain (galvo system). Westrex simply mounted the strings in a vertical mode to produce an area track. I worked with the the rather rare Westrex model 1581 duo bilateral recorder The variable area track is still in use at present as the DolbySR default track on digital sound tracks.

Germany's Klang and British GB Kalee also produced variable area recorders. However these systems used a moving mask.

In the late 1940s John Maurer (Los Angeles?) made a 16mm direct negative/direct positive optical recorder utilising a moving mask. It was remarkable as it could record a clean, sharp 10KHz sine wave on film negative. Printing it was another story ......

Otto Snel.

Reviewer: Ray Pointer - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - February 25, 2005
Subject: FINDING HIS VOICE
Although we have had this title in our archives for many years, it is one of several 16mm dupes that have been circulating for decades. The 16mm prints have all generally been rather good.
But withing the last five years, UCLA has restored it from a 35mm source, and re-recorded the soundtrack as well. Ironically, the re-recorded track is of a rival method--Variable Area, when the method demonstrated and used on the prints was Variable Density.

The film was originally commissioned by the Electical Research Products Incorporated division of Western Electric, which takes credit for the story, E.R.P.I. It was originally intended as a demontration film for threater owners, projectionists, and sound techinicians. Although it tends to get a bit lost within its own technicalities, the animation helps to keep a rather dry subject entertaining. The situation is personified by two rolls of film, one called "Talkie," the other "Mutie." Throughout the film, little technical details are found such as "Mutie"'s pulse needing to be pepped up from 60 to 90. This is a reference to the differences between silent and sound film speeds, which was an increase of 50% by Western Electric.

Additional information on this subject can be gained from my documentary, FIRST SOUND OF MOVIES (2003), which not only uses some footage from FINDING HIS VOICE, but also tells the story of the development of the sound on film process by Dr. Lee deForest.

Reviewer: op712 - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - October 19, 2003
Subject: Finding his Voice
Excellent 1929 short on the description of optical sound. From the early advents of the talkies, which was the sound on disk (16 inch shellac disks syncronized with the projector via linkage from the projector motor, in which is what DTS is-kind of of a step backwards with using an external CDrom source for sound to sync up with the timecode on the film for playback), in the process of going forwards with digital sound to our digital sound we have today, it's amazing to also see how the early methods of creating what is called a variable density soundtrack using the wire and aperture method, whereas the later methods of variable desnity recordings were with light passing through an aperture that would bright and dim with voltage variations of the original sound source. Also, in this clip of the projection device, being interesting that the cartoonists used the Powers 6-B silent projector adapted for sound on disk usage for this animated short. And, also take a look at those stage speakers with the folded horn concept-very antique. Overall, quite an interesting short to present to the public on how sound is created for the motion picture audience. I've been the motion picture field for over 35yrs-from carbon arc, exciterlamp, nitrate film, and changeovers to the digital world as we know it today..

Reviewer: Mathew H.E. Bailey - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - May 28, 2003
Subject: Finding His Voice
I am a member of the Film-Tech forums at www.film-tech.com & what I have seen in this short is a Western Electric/Vitaphone projector. What I see in the film is a Simplex pre-Super Simplex 35 projector on a Western Electric soundhead,known as an analogue optical sondhead or analogue optical sound reader.
Ther are today besides the analogue optical track three optical digital tracks whisch are SDDS-Sony Dynamic Digital Sound ,DTS-sort for Digital Thatre Systems, & Dolby Digital. DTS involves using an optical Morse code-like trak called a timecode track which syncronizes a CD-ROM disc containing the separate sound with the film. The 35 millimeter film originally on flammable nitrate stock has evolved to acetate then polyester known by Kodak as Estar film stock. So much has changed in theatre sound & projection technology from carbon arc to filament style bulbs to xenon bulbs & possibly to in the future to all laser projection light sources-combining red,green & blue lasers to produce a necessary white light for projection.
Also,the maens of transporting film through projectors has gone from reel-to-reel projection to film platter style reel systems for most theatres. Without film platters,multiple screen theatres would not be possible.

Reviewer: Spuzz - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - May 10, 2003
Subject: LOVE THE ENDING!
In this early Max Fleischer short, the process of how talkies were made at the time. Completely animated, it features Soudie, the talking filmstrip, and his friend the silent one, about how to get his voive. They go to Dr Western and then Dr Western goes into a simewhat tedious scientific explanation about how sound his made. Somewhat interesting though as we see processes that are no longer used (the camer in the soundproof room for example). Soo, the silent filmstrip DOES find his voice and joins his brother for a singalong version of 'Merrily We Roll Along' to a an amazingly hilarious finale which I can't spoil for you. Let me say it's rather unexpected. Reccomended!

Reviewer: Wilford B. Wolf - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - April 27, 2003
Subject: His Filmic Voice
Max Fleischer, as well as being a animation pioneer in both the silent and sound eras, also did a number of industrial and advertising films. This 1929 piece is a fascinating example. The film finds Max in a stylistic crossover, from the more simplistic animation of his Out Of The Inkwell series, using block blacks and little, if any backgrounds, to the more detailed backgrounds and larger grey pallets that would mark his 1930s work of Betty Boop and Popeye.

Not only is this an excellent example of Fleischer's work, it is wonderful overview of how sound on film works, a technology that remained basically the same until the advent of multi-channel stereo on film in the early 1990s.